BOSTON (SHNS) – Federal prosecutors announced a guilty plea Friday from a Quincy man who since the beginning of the pandemic has sold lanyards on eBay that he falsely claimed would protect people against contracting COVID-19.
Jiule Lin, 38, pleaded guilty to one count of distribution and sale of an unregistered pesticide. Lin listed for sale on eBay to U.S. buyers a product called “Toamit Virus Shut Out” featuring a card-shaped device to be worn as a lanyard around the user’s neck.
“The eBay listing depicted the removal of germs or viruses through the wearing of the device,” according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s office. “Other online listings for the same product included the explicit claim that the product would protect the buyer or wearer of the product from viruses or bacteria, stating that the product’s main ingredient was chlorine dioxide and showed images of the device’s purported removal of bacteria, germs and viruses.”
Toamit Virus Shut Out was not registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, and it is illegal to distribute or sell unregistered pesticides.
“At the height of a raging pandemic killing thousands of people a day, this defendant tried to profit from conning people into believing that a pesticide-coated lanyard would protect them from viruses like COVID-19. This was dangerous, opportunistic fraud,” Lelling said in a statement. “We will always pursue these kinds of cases – I have zero tolerance for people who take advantage of the fears of others during a national health crisis.”
A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled by the court. In July, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Louisville seized a shipment containing 10 boxes of Virus Shut Out devices that the federal agency said was arriving from Hong Kong and was destined for a residence in Louisville.